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Intro and Process of Science


Introduction: Dining in the Trees
The leopard is an excellent example of an organism adapted to its environment
It survives because of adaptations to its environment
Examples are coat camouflage and hunting and climbing ability
Adaptations are the result of evolution
Evolution is the process of change that transforms life
Biology is the scientific study of life

In lifes hierarchy of organization, new properties emerge at each level
Lifes levels of organization define the scope of biology
Life emerges through organization of various levels
With addition of each new level, novel properties emerge called emergent
properties
Properties of the whole depend on interactions of parts
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts
The upper tier is a global perspective of life
Biosphere: all the environments on Earth that support life
Ecosystem: all the organisms living in a particular area
Community: the array of organisms living in a particular ecosystem
Population: all the individuals of a species within a specific area
The middle tier is characterized by the organism, an individual living thing, composed
of
Organ systems: have specific functions; are composed of organs
Organs: provide specific functions for the organism
Tissues: made of groups of similar cells
Life emerges at the level of the cell, the lower tier, which is composed of
Molecules: clusters of atoms
Organelles: membrane-bound structures with specific functions
Cells: living entities distinguished from their environment by a membrane

The unity of life: All forms of life have common features
All living things share common properties
Order: the complex organization of living things
Regulation: an ability to maintain an internal environment consistent with life
(homeostasis; breathing, etc.)
Growth and development: consistent growth and development controlled by DNA
Energy processing: acquiring energy and transforming it to a form useful for the
organism
Response to the environment: an ability to respond to environmental stimuli
Reproduction: the ability to perpetuate the species
Evolutionary adaptation: acquisition of traits that best suit the organism to its
environment

Three domains (groups) of life
Bacteria: prokaryotic, and the most are unicellular and microscopic
Archaea: like bacteria in many ways, are prokaryotic and most are unicellular and
microscopic
Eukarya: are eukaryotic and contain a membrane bound nucleus and other
organelles
Determined by rRNA sequences

What is Science?
Science is the process of using observations and experiments to draw evidence-based
conclusions
Science is not just a body of established facts; its a way of knowing
Process used to generate body of facts
Science
Is a way of knowing
Seeks natural causes for natural phenomena (logical explanations)
Scientists use two main approaches to learn about nature and understand
natural causes for natural phenomena:
1. Discovery Science: uses verifiable observations and measurements to describe
science
Scientists describe some aspect of the world and use inductive reasoning to draw
general conclusions
Chimps Wage War: Chimps in Uganda observed for 10+ years, found that chimps
patrol and defend their territory
2. Hypothesis based science: uses the data from discovery science to explain science
This requires proposing and testing of hypotheses
Hypothesis: untested theory, educated guess, explanation (why or how)
Must be testable, falsifiable
With hypothesis-based science, we pose and test hypotheses
Make some observations
Frame a question/pose a testable hypothesis
Make a prediction based on your hypothesis
Devise ways to test the accuracy of your prediction (gather info/run
experiments)
Access the results the Data. Do Data affirm or disprove hypothesis?
Report your results
There is a difference between a theory and a hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a set of observations. Must be
testable and falsifiable.
A theory is supported by a large and usually growing body of evidence
A theory is a well-established explanation that is widely accepted as true by
many scientists working independently of each other.

With hypothesis-based science, we pose and test hypotheses
We solve everyday problems by using hypotheses
An example would be the reasoning we use to answer the question/observation,
Why doesnt the flashlight work?
Using deductive reasoning we realize that the problem is either the (1) bulb or (2)
batteries.
The hypothesis must be testable
The hypothesis must be falsifiable
Another hypothesis: Mimicry helps protect nonpoisonous king snakes from predators
where poisonous coral snakes also live because predators avoid the coloration pattern
on both snakes.
The hypothesis predicts that predators learn to avoid the warning coloration of coral
snakes
Experimentation supports the prediction of the mimicry hypothesis nonpoisonous
snakes that mimic coloration of coral snakes are attacked less frequently
The experiment has a control group using brown artificial snakes for comparison
(baseline amount that animals hunt snakes)
The experimental group is artificial snakes with the red, black, and yellow ring
pattern of king snakes

How do scientists draw conclusions?
Scientists draw conclusions from the best evidence they have at any one time.
Conclusions may be modified in the future as other scientists ask different questions
or use improved technology to uncover better data
To properly evaluate a scientific claim, we need to look closely at how the science was
done.

Science is a process: Asking questions
Anecdotal evidence is an informal observation that has not been systematically tested
(can not be published as a conclusion)
Anecdotal evidence can lead to the formulation of questions.

Science is a process: Studying previous research
Peer review is a process in which independent scientific experts read scientific studies
before their publication to ensure that the authors appropriately designed and
interpreted their study.
Reading relevant peer-reviewed literature helps to give a sense of what information
currently exists on the subject of interest.

Science is a process: Forming scientific hypotheses
The information in peer-reviewed literature can be used to formulate a scientific
hypothesis a testable and falsifiable explanation for a scientific observation or
question.
Not all explanations are scientific hypotheses.
Statements of opinion, and hypotheses that use supernatural or mystical
explanations that cannot be tested or refuted, fall outside the realm of scientific
explanation.
Hypotheses can never be proved true once and for all.
If a hypothesis is shown to be false, it can be rejected and removed from the list of
possible answers to the original question.
If the data support the hypothesis, it will be accepted until further testing and data
show otherwise. It is impossible to test whether a hypothesis is true in every possible
situation.

Science is a process: Experimentation
Scientific hypotheses can be tested using experimentation. An experiment is a
carefully designed test, the results of which will either support or rule out a hypothesis.
Controlled experiments use experimental groups and control groups to test a
hypothesis.
The experimental group is the group in an experiment that experiences the
experimental intervention or manipulation (caffeinated coffee)
The control group is the group in an experiment that experiences no experimental
intervention or manipulation (decaf coffee)


The independent variable is the variable, or factor, being deliberately changed in the
experimental group (caffeine).
The control group receives a placebo a fake treatment given to control groups to
mimic the experience of the experimental groups (decaf coffee).
The placebo effect is the effect observed when members of a control group display
a measurable response to a placebo because they think they are receiving a real
treatment. In order to rule this out, the participants in the experiment do not know
whether they are receiving a placebo or the experimental treatment.
The dependent variable is the measured result of an experiment (memory). It is
analyzed in both the experimental and control groups.
In a controlled experiment, the control group and experimental group differ only in the
independent variable, so the results of the experiment provide evidence-based
conclusions.


Science is a process: Drawing conclusions
Confidence in scientific findings is increased by repetition of an experiment by other
scientists.
The sample size of the experiment can strengthen our confidence in the results of the
study (40 people is not very much). The sample size is the number of experimental
subjects or the number of times an experiment is repeated.
In human studies, the sample size is the number of subjects.
The larger the sample size, the more likely the results will have statistical
significance. Statistical significance is a measure of confidence that the results
obtained are real, rather than due to random chance.
The more experiments that support a hypothesis, the more confident we can be that it is
true.
A hypothesis that continues to hold up after many years of rigorous testing may
eventually be considered a scientific theory.
Scientific theories are different than everyday theories. In science, a theory is a
hypothesis that has never been disproved, even after many years of rigorous testing.


Science is a process: Publication
Results of an experiment are published in peer-reviewed journals. The studies in these
scientific journals are reviewed by experts before publication to ensure accuracy.

Finding Patterns
Scientists can make observations or comparisons of phenomena in nature to answer
questions that could not be tested through controlled laboratory experiments for
ethical/practical reasons.
Epidemiology is the study of patterns of disease in populations, including risk factors
(epidemiological studies observe people already smoking, etc.).
Pro: No limit to people you can observe, less costly than normal study
Con: takes many years
Randomized clinical trials, or controlled medical experiments in which subjects are
randomly chosen to receive either an investigational treatment or a placebo, are used to
measure the effects of a variable under controlled conditions.
Scientific studies of drugs can be complicated due to side effects.
Correlation is a consistent relationship between variables. Data may show correlation
between two variables, but it does not prove that one variable causes the other.


Evaluating scientific information
It is important to be cautious when making decisions based on a single epidemiological
study.
Complexity of a disease makes it unlikely that every variable can be controlled for.
Small sample sizes can influence accuracy of results.
The specific population of the study may not be representative of the general
population.
Scientists rely on peer-reviewed scientific reports to learn about new advances, but the
public often relies on brief media reports that are not always completely accurate in
their portrayal of the conclusions of scientific studies.